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New Radiation Machine at Cancer Center

EUGENE, Ore. — Western Oregon cancer patients have a new tool to fight the disease: a $2.3 million radiation machine.

With technology rapidly changing, the Willamette Valley Cancer Institute felt the need to upgrade its radiation equipment. It wasn’t cheap, but one doctor says in the short amount of time since the purchase, even patients notice the difference.

“It has something called ARC therapy, so the machine is rotating around the patient while it’s delivering the treatment,” said Dr. David Fryefield. “The last machine that we bought was about $1.7 million, and the one before that was right around a million, so things tend to get more expensive, but it’s what technology does.”

Lasers line the walls, which is the way oncologists used to pinpoint where to treat, but now this machine has capabilities to do both an x-ray and a CAT scan.

“We’ll do a mini CAT scan, and we’ll look at it out in the control area and we’ll make sure that the radiation is pinpointed at the cancer itself because we can see it,” Dr. Fryefield said.

While patients lay down during the treatment, they can look at a new painting above the machine, which doctors installed to keep people calm during treatment.

For cancer patients needing radiation, Fryefield said most patients come in a daily basis. The new machine cuts treatment time down to just three or four minutes.

“They also appreciate the shortened treatment times. It’s hard to lay on that hard table for 12, 15 minutes, and it’s much nicer to be there for just a few minutes,” Fryefield said.

But technology like this isn’t easy to find.

“This is the only machine of its kind in Lane County,” Fryefield said.

Oncologists say it’s just what local cancer patients need.

“We don’t want you to feel like you need to go to Portland, Seattle or San Fran. We want to be able to say we have the best treatments available right here,” said Fryefield said.

The machine is primarily used to treat cancers deep in the body, so oncologists usually use it to treat lung, esophagus and liver cancers.

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